Acne and your age: Will you ever be free of pimples?

Pimples are often linked with the teenage years, but acne happens to adults as well. That leads to questions: Does acne really get better when you are old enough? What does age have to do with flare-ups? Will pimples ever go away? Let’s unpack the relationship between acne and age, and figure out how to protect your complexion from zits.


At what age does acne start?

Most people notice their first pimples at the ages of 10 to 13 years, right as puberty is setting in. Acne lesions are most common in the facial region, but they also show up on the neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms.

Adolescent acne affects both boys and girls, especially kids with oily skin. In general, boys tend to suffer worse flares than girls.


Why is acne so common in adolescence?

Hormones running wild are to blame. As pre-teens and teens hit puberty, the body produces high levels of hormones known as androgens. Testosterone is a type of androgen.

Large quantities of androgens trigger the sebaceous glands to overproduce an oily substance called sebum. Normally, sebum travels to the pores on the skin’s surface through hair follicles. But if there is excess sebum, the follicles get clogged with oil, dirt, and dead skin.

These follicular blockages give rise to blackheads and whiteheads. Sometimes, the follicle wall ruptures due to too much clogging, and the sebum leaks into surrounding tissues where it forms a pimple. When the acne is severe, painful lumps such as nodules and pus-filled cysts appear beneath the skin.

(Here’s more on why teens are so prone to acne.)


When does acne go away?

Teenage acne begins to clear up within five to 10 years. Those who suffered bad bouts of pimples through their teens may notice a gradual improvement through their 20s.

But there is no guarantee that pimples will leave your skin for good. Acne flares can affect men and women not only in their 20s but also through their 30s, 40s, and beyond. Some people escape adolescent breakouts completely, only to suffer from adult-onset acne later.


Why do adults have acne?

Adults may experience acne for a combination of reasons. Here are some common triggers:

  • Hormones: Hormone fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy leave adult women more prone to acne than men. 
  • Lifestyle: Stress, smoking, lack of sleep and exercise, and a poor diet could trigger breakouts. (Yes, exercise can help with acne!)
  • Genetics: Did your parents have acne as adults? Your genes could explain your propensity to flares.
  • Greasy products: Oily skin and hair products clog the pores, leaving you prone to acne.
  • Dry skin: Acne is viewed as an oily skin problem, but dry skin could trigger breakouts too. Dryness can cause dead skin to flake off and block the pores.
  • Medication: Birth control pills and steroids can aggravate pimples in some people.
  • Underlying disease: Is your acne accompanied by rapid weight loss or
    gain, hair loss or excessive hair growth, or irregular periods? Check with your doctor to rule out any health issues. (PCOS could be causing your flares.)


At what age is acne at its worst?

Coping with pimples is hard when you are young, and many experience their worst flares as teens. But a bad case of acne is a bad case of acne, no matter how old you are.

Acne is uncomfortable, painful, and unsightly, and it can affect one’s self-esteem. But acne can also be beaten, regardless of your age.


Acne management at any age

A simple four-step skin regimen will help you stay on top of mild to moderate flares:

  1. Cleanse: Invest in a mild cleanser to deep-clean the pores and wash away dirt. You could also use an exfoliating cleanser a couple of times a week to remove stubborn debris.
  2. Tone: Add a few drops of toner to a cotton ball and rub all over the face and neck. Toner tightens your pores and restores the skin’s pH balance.
  3. Treat: Target acne bacteria and inflammation with a powerful yet gentle formula like Clearica Anti-Acne Cream. Use regularly to promote skin cell turnover and reveal healthy, acne-free skin.
  4. Moisturise: Massage in your favourite moisturiser to nourish and hydrate the skin. Use something with SPF when going outside during the day.

Continue the regimen for 10 to 12 weeks to see results. If your acne does not clear up within this time or if your skin gets worse, consult a dermatologist. You may require prescription-strength products or medication to clear the acne. 



Age does not bring immunity to acne. But don’t let problem skin mess with your head. With care, commitment, and the right combination of products, acne management and great skin can be within your reach. 




Disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation or for diagnostic purposes. Please consult your dermatologist or doctor before acting on any of the information provided here.